Acting, The New Conversation: Required Reading
As an entrepreneur-minded writer and producer, I’m keenly interested in the evolving DIY system of open information sharing, grassroots appeal, bootstrap’ing sweat equity, and Think Outside The Box Office-ing of independent cinema. These factors drive the indie scene much as the Hebrews circled Jericho, finding the right trumpet pitch to bring the studio walls a-tumblin’ down.
If you’re involved in this scene, you’ve debated in these conversations about self distribution, finding your audience, and whether Kevin Smith represents a replicable business model or if he’s just a stunt-pulling one-off in an XXXL bathrobe.
I want to bring these conversations to Acting:
It’s really tough. Acting is a strange blend of service industry and cult of personality. It can make or break films, especially if there is a “name” involved. It also is one of the few lines of business in the film world that can acquire greater scarcity and therefore greater value as it matures.
People tend to either fling me rote advice that works in the studio way of doing things (“Get an agent, and then get a better agent!”) or champion new advice that is an interesting part of the new conversation, but doesn’t have demonstrable traction yet (“Get a website and lots of Twitter followers!”) That might be the start of the conversation, but it’s not the answer.
Filmmakers are doing things differently, self publishing book authors are doing things differently, the industry is shifting to a more open, online, and on-demand reality. How does this apply to Acting? Well, that’s what I want to converse about, because it’s frustrating to be told to keep following old paradigms in hopes of success, when there are obviously new methods evolving that Actors might learn from.
A few caveats before we begin:
1) I see Actors as members of an entrepreneurial Creative class, responsible for their career and passionate about it, the same as a director or an author.
2) It’s common to label Actors as hired contributors rather than creators, until their careers reach a sustainable level. However, consider that when Actors’ careers do find traction, they have the power to bring a film the credibility it desperately needs, or even greenlight a film to be financed. Thus, the idea that actors are a dime a dozen on Craigslist may be true, but only up to a crucial turning point. It is this possibility of a conversion that needs to be taken into the equation rather than waved aside.
3) This post does not take “oh my roommate took an improv class last year and can act” nor “I just cast my friends” as a viable part of the new conversation. The Actor we are talking about in this series is hard working, ever learning, and talented, but hasn’t hit their break yet.
Originally, I conceived this as a couple of bullet points but realized I had a lot more to say. I broke this post up into several parts. Part I kicks off with Required Reading. These articles have been under my skin and in my subconscious, forming the baseline of this new conversation:
Sheri Candler’s 10 Tips for Your Film (That I encourage you to think about in terms of your acting career)
Yes, few of these are aimed at actors. Instead, they are designed to get you thinking about your acting career in more holistic terms, as a creative entrepreneur leveraging your unique skills in a glutted marketplace to create sustainable value.
Man, I sound old.
But basically, it comes down to this imperative: Start creating instead of waiting.
NEXT POST: Who’s your audience?